Skip to main content

Full text of "A story about a real man"

See other formats

gg                                                                                                                       B. POLEVOI
of a Pharaoh he had seen in the illustrations of his school
textbook on ancient history. He passed his big hand down
his friend's cheeks, which were covered with hard, thick,
reddish stubble.
"It's all right, Alexei! You'll be back on your feet
again! We've received orders to send you to Moscow, to
a fine hospital All professors! As for the nurses"—he
clicked his tongue and winked at Lenochka—"they make
the dead walk! You and I will make ourselves heard in
the air yet___" And here Degtyarenko caught himself
speaking with the same affected, lifeless joviality that
Lenochka was assuming. Suddenly he felt moisture under
his hands as he stroked his friend's cheeks. "Where is
the stretcher?" he demanded angrily. "Let's take him
out! What's the use of dilly-dallying?"
Assisted by the old man, they gently placed Alexei,
rolled up in the blankets, on the stretcher. Varya collected
his belongings and tied them up in a bundle.
"Grandad!" said Alexei, stopping Varya as she was
pushing the SS dirk into the bundle. Prompted by his
thrifty habits, Grandad Mikhail had often examined
the dirk with curiosity, had cleaned it, sharpened
it, and had tried it on his thumb. "Take this as a
"Thank you, Alexei! Thank you! It's a fine piece of
steel. And look! It's got something written on it not in
our language," he added, showing the dirk to Degtya-
renko. The latter read the inscription on the blade and
translated it: Alles fur Deutschland—"Everything for
"Everything for Germany," echoed Alexei, remember-
ing how he had acquired the dirk.
"Now then, old man, pick him up, pick him up!" cried
Degtyarenko, grasping the handles at one end of the
The stretcher swayed and, with difficulty, passed
through the narrow doorway of the dugout, knocking the
earth down from the walls.
All those who had crowded into the dugout rushed
out to see the foundling off. Varya alone remained. She
unhurriedly trimmed the rushlight, went up to the striped
mattress that still bore the imprint of the human body